Berti Vogts on the future of the German national team: wake up!

After a bloodless performance against Israel, the big prestige duel is about to begin. These games aren’t well chosen because there really isn’t time for them in the World Cup year.

It’s not a good sign if I’m sitting on the couch at home and have to worry about other things during an international match for our German national team. Unfortunately, that was the case again last Saturday. And then after 70 minutes I took my remote control and switched it off.

Yes, we won 2-0 against Israel (Find out more about the game here), but how did we win: Where was the passion? Where is the unconditional will to go for the third goal? The game rippled along like that. The national team has to be bursting with enthusiasm at the start of the 2022 World Cup. At least that’s what I wished for. I wanted to call out to the players in front of the TV on Saturday: Wake up! The World Cup in Qatar starts in just under eight months. You no longer have many opportunities to prove yourself. So take the chance. After all, many regular players like Joshua Kimmich or Leon Goretzka were not there. What’s the matter? Those are the moments when you can show what you’re made of as a reservist or new player. “Coach, coach, I want to play,” they should have called out to Hansi Flick, “Coach, coach, I’ll throw everything in, do you see that? Do you see that?” I demand this bite from all our national players. But the performance against Israel was bloodless.

Another point is important to me in this context.

Basically, I think it’s good if we regularly play games against each other because of the special historical relationship between Germany and Israel. I myself flew to Israel with Borussia Mönchengladbach – for the first time in 1970 – and then later with the youth national team to play there. But in the World Cup year, I find this opponent poorly selected. We have to prepare for the tournament in the few tests we have. Our new, young national players in particular should now gain experience in test games against South Americans or Africans in order to understand the style of play and the mentality. Because we meet these teams at the World Cup, but not Israel. We used to fly halfway around the world as a national team to gain just such experiences. That was important and helped us a lot in the tournaments.

Flick gets it just right

But I don’t want to be too pessimistic either. The new national coach Hansi Flick has won eight games in a row. And even if it wasn’t a top team that was played against, you have to do it first. I am impressed with the passion with which Hansi approaches his new job. I see him all the time on TV in some stands in Bundesliga stadiums. Sometimes in Munich, then again in Dortmund or Berlin. A national coach has to be on the road, meeting people, seeing a lot of games. Because that helps him, but also the national players. You feel seen.

keyword “see”. Who we won’t see at the World Cup in Qatar is the national team of Italy. Coach Roberto Mancini’s team failed in the World Cup playoffs against North Macedonia. And many football fans are even happy about it. But not me. I am disappointed and sad. Because a World Cup without Italy is not a World Cup. The Italians are definitely one of them. Those players, their anthem, the gorgeous blue shirts, their passion, their slyness – all of that will be missing in Qatar. Italy may have failed because of their own arrogance after the EM victory. That should also be a warning to us Germans for the future.

But right now we have our own problems.

Matthias Ginter: Wants to leave Borussia Mönchengladbach after the season. The right decision? (Source: Langer/imago images)

One topic that I don’t understand at all, for example, is the discussion about national defender Matthias Ginter. He is under contract with Borussia Mönchengladbach until the end of the season. He’s not playing good football at the moment, and that’s probably also due to the discussions about his future. He himself just said to the “RND”: “I didn’t know this hustle and bustle before. These many construction sites, also outside of the sporting area, certainly didn’t help things go better on the pitch.”

Ginter should think again

And Ginter probably still hasn’t made up his mind – which can also be an opportunity. I can recommend him to think about it again calmly. Because he fits in very well with Gladbach, maybe he should even change his mind and extend his contract. At Gladbach he is important, at FC Bayern – with whom he is repeatedly associated – he would be just one of many. And I don’t think Ginter would be a regular there.

I don’t envy the footballers of this generation at all. You always have at least one adviser listening to you whispering how important money is. I don’t know exactly how it is with Ginter, but if it is the same with him, I can only recommend that you break away from it and rather listen to yourself completely. No money in the world can replace the joy of football.

When I was a young player, I too had an offer from Bayern Munich. Back then, Franz Beckenbauer really wanted to bring me to Munich. We knew each other from the national team.

Training course 1969: Berti Vogts (left) and Franz Beckenbauer in the uniform of the German national team.  (Source: imago images/WEREK)Training course 1969: Berti Vogts (left) and Franz Beckenbauer in the uniform of the German national team. (Source: WEREK/imago images)

There were talks as part of a DFB course on this. Bayern coach at the time was Dettmar Cramer. I was flattered, but I quickly made it clear to Beckenbauer and Cramer that there was only one club for me: Borussia from Mönchengladbach. My home. I would like to see such clear decisions against the current from our footballers more often these days. Money and prestige aren’t everything.

Tonight Ginter meets the Netherlands with the German national team. This is the game par excellence for both sides. I’m looking forward to it and I hope that this time I won’t have to turn off the TV after 70 minutes of being bored. And yet, unfortunately, that’s not the game I’d like it to be in this phase of preparation for the World Cup. Everything is at stake against the Dutch, especially honor. There will be far too few opportunities for Flick to try out new things. This is exactly what is urgently needed.